Last week, Caity Weaver and I took a break from stuffing our faces to attend Dave Duminuco's Be (Better Than) Beyoncé workout class, which is currently held on Friday evenings at Awakening NY in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood. Here is how the one-hour class's Facebook page describes it:
Together we will move at a high intensity level focusing on plyometrics all to the beat of BEY! From the warm-up to the cool down, this one hour fitness class ensures a full body upgrade. So, whether you're already bootylicious or a single lady come move with me and you'll be ready when he checks on it! Leave a $20 at the door ;)
It is basically a Beyoncé-soundtracked boot camp with some dancing, twerking, and weave-patting thrown in. Below, our impressions.
Rich: Hey, Caity, do you feel (better than) Beyoncé? I don't; Beyoncé feels the best because she is the best at everything she does.
Caity: I would say that, on my best day, I'm probably operating at about 30 percent Beyoncé. At the end of this class, I felt 0 percent Beyoncé, 100 percent Michelle.
Rich: I didn't see you fall down but if I had, I would have reacted in the same way Beyoncé did, I'm afraid. I don't think that I'm better than Beyoncé, but I don't think that I'm worse. I should give background on how we came to take a Beyoncé workout class, which apparently is a thing. I was waiting for a burrito from the Endless Summer truck on Bedford between Metropolitan and Grand in Williamsburg one early afternoon when a sinewy boy in a revealing tank top that he had turned out from a T-shirt approached my gentleman friend and I, and said, "I'm taking a stab here, but do you guys workout?" Why yes, thank you for noticing, I like you. "Do you guys like Beyoncé?" Oh, you just know we're gay. That's fine. And then he gave me his card and I said, "I know someone who would love this, if we write about it, can we go for free?" And he said yes. And there we were.
Caity: "I know someone who loves free things—could this be one of them?"
Rich: He told me we'd get to dance and do our thing, which strictly speaking is not my thing, but I knew it was yours. I'm always down for cardio (not a euphemism). (Well, OK, I guess it is.)
Caity: You and I had opposite reviews of this class. I was disappointed by the fact there was hardly any dancing, and you felt like there was WAY TOO MUCH.
Rich: I have long thought of myself as a man who could move his hips isolated from the rest of his body, if only he were inclined to do so. That night, I learned that my self-image was askew.
Also, twerking is hard, as I learned while being commanded to twerk-twerk-down while doing pushups. Although, that was one of my favorite workouts as we did mountain climbers into pushups into modified plank leg-lifts. (The directives/targeted muscle groups changed with each song.) Real bootcampy.
Caity: Twerking comes more naturally to me than push-ups or almost any physical activity, except hip swivels, which come the most naturally of all
Rich: It's funny how different we are. Put us together, Voltron-style, and we are Beyoncé. Kind of amazing that my other half-Beyoncé ended up working in the same office as me.
Caity: I think more than anything our different workout styles and personalities and heights illustrate how challenging it must be to be Beyoncé. Imagine one woman containing such multitudes. For instance, I am typing this with one hand because I am simultaneously eating caramel corn out of a huge bucket at my desk, without pausing. I'm probably going to become physically ill, which something I was very, very worried would happen during the workout. Before we started, the instructor gave very calm, patient instructions about where to vomit up the content of our stomach ("Just walk through the back door, right here"). I asked him if that had ever happened during a Beyoncé session and he said yes, one time.
One thing that DID make me sick was the playlist. This was not a rock solid Beyoncé playlist.
Rich: Most of these were not the Beyoncé songs I would have chosen.
Rich: The playlist was, in order: "Diva," "That's How You Like It," "Kitty Kat," "Check On It," "Single Ladies," "Upgrade You," "Ego," "Bootylicious," "Survivor," "Get Me Bodied," "Countdown," and "Rocket." I was disappointed that there wasn't more from BEYONCÉ on there. I know that's a mellow album, but there is stuff we could have used. Would have been nice to stretch to "Ghost" and then warm up to "Haunted." Could have done short bursts of cardio to "Yoncé." "Partition" is made for the kind of air sex that Dave had us having. And we listened to "Rocket" twice in a row during the cool down. Could have easily put in "Jealous" or "No Angel." That said, doing burpees to "Survivor" was a particularly brutal experience. I hate "Survivor." I hate "Survivor" as much as I love Kelly's line, "I'm not gonna compromise my Christianity," and I love that line.
Caity: I'm glad we didn't work out to "Yoncé" because I already have a fully choreographed dance to that song. And I wouldn't have wanted to share it with strangers, who could steal my moves.
Rich: Really, what does it entail?
Caity: Everything you could ever want to see me do.
Rich: Do you need a partner to lick you so you can get your eye roll on? I volunteer.
Caity: No, but I do picture that happening when I perform my moves.
Rich: We coulda been doing some powerful squats to "Drunk in Love," too. All the white people in the room woulda been like, "Surfboardt!" I can't hear "Bootylicious," without thinking about Pussylicious, a porn my eyes locked on once when I peeked into my local video store's porn room in the early '00s.
Caity: I don't even recall hearing "Bootylicious." My brain blacked it out, like a traumatic event. The song's prophecy proved true. It was way too Bootylicious for me.
Rich: During some of the more ambitious dancing, I looked at myself in the studio's floor-to-ceiling mirror and felt...wack. Real stiff and real wack. Some Polish girls were laughing at me while I was trying to move my hips. I felt like everyone could dance better than I could. "Focus on the fitness, don't pay any attention to those other Beys," I told myself.
Caity: I felt like everyone could work out better than I could but also I didn't give a FUCK because that's not one of my skills and I know that. I was there for the music, man. This one-hour group exercise class was my Woodstock.
Rich: Mine too, that's why I dropped acid and had lots of promiscuous sex in the corner of the workout studio. I didn't realize that "Get Me Bodied" had a workout built into it, but we did what she said and it kept our heart rates up. I do think that a lot of our exercises were based on actual things Beyoncé has done. Squats: Beyoncé pees. Walking in jazz squares: she probably does that when they put her away every night.
Caity: I think Beyoncé would have been unimpressed by the level of our workout.
Rich: We did high-knee runs for like 30 seconds. I bet she does them for an hour straight. While she's sleeping. In her pen.
Caity: It was certainly an exercise for the mind, wondering about Beyoncé's daily workout regimen. What are her favorite exercises? What are her least favorite? Do you think Jay Z works out?
Do you think Jay Z has osteoporosis?
Rich: Everything about Jay Z SCREAMS "bird bones." At the end, Dave asked our favorite part, and I said, referencing the extended portion of "Get Me Bodied," "Naomi Campbell walk." That really was the best. Wind in your hair, wind on your face, a break from all the insanity to just stride like you're the hottest thing with a human genome for a bit.
Caity: My favorite part was the shower that followed.
Rich: My second favorite part was, "Drop to your knees arch your back girl shake shake it like that alley cat," also from "Get Me Bodied." Felt good to be on all fours and inviting no one in particular to come try this in a room full of people. I won't say it felt better than Beyoncé, but I empathize with her a little more now.
Caity: I think the class set itself an impossible challenge. Be Better Than Beyoncé. Be Bigger Than Infinity. Be Wetter Than the Ocean. I wasn't any of those things, but I was sore.
Rich: Ooh me too! In the thighs, specifically. I wonder if Beyoncé's thighs still get sore. I wonder if they ever did.